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Stars shine bright under the arctic sky – who gets to raise the mythical reindeer antlers?

31.01.2024 / Finnish Rally Championship / Communications

Finnish Rally Championship series continues this coming weekend, 1-3. February in Rovaniemi, which once again gets to host the classic Arctic Lapland Rally, now for the 59th time. The arctic adventure attracted 124 drivers to this year’s edition, of which no less than 34 bring international colour to the rally. In total, there are drivers from 21 different countries.

The rally starts on Friday, February 2nd at the Lordi’s Square in Rovaniemi city centre at 11:00, from where the competitors head towards the first leg of five special stages before the overnight break. On Saturday, there are seven stages ahead before the podium celebrations are due to start at 20:15, once again brining all the finishing crews to the Lordi’s Square. On Thursday, before the actual rally begins, the traditional Vennivaara shakedown stage starts at 13:00 and will serve as the first taste of the arctic conditions.

Rovanperä starts his season in Rovaniemi

The brightest star at the legendary Arctic Rally is naturally the two-time world rally champion Kalle Rovanperä of Toyota GAZOO Racing, who will drive his first rally of the year this weekend. Rovanperä, who is running a partial WRC program this season, is testing in Rovaniemi for Rally Sweden ahead in two weeks.

Altogether, two Rally1 cars will be pacing the stages, as another Toyota pilot, Elfyn Evans, will also participate. Evans competed already in the World Rally Championship season opener in Monte-Carlo last week, where the Welshman finished third behind Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Ogier.

Toyota’s team boss Jari-Matti Latvala is also on the start list. Latvala competes at the arctic circle with his historic Toyota Celica with co-driver Juho Hänninen.

Who will take the reindeer antlers?

In the SM1 class of Rally2 cars, the level of talent is extremely high, and in Rovaniemi we will see one of the toughest driver lineups in the history of the class. There are 26 drivers, many of whom will also be seen in the WRC2 class of the World Rally Championship event in Sweden. Thus the battle for the winner’s legendary reindeer antlers will be nothing but intense up until to the final meters.

Among the usual names in the FRC this season, the number one favourite is the winner of the opening rally in Riihimäki, Roope Korhonen, who now changes from Skoda to the fresh Toyota GR Yaris Rally2. The all new Toyota will be seen on snow for the first time in Rovaniemi, so at this point it is still difficult to say about the car’s power ratio compared to, for example, the all time Rally2 power brand Skoda.

Benjamin Korhola and Anssi Rytkönen, who are next in the championship standings, and Niclas Grönholm, who went off the road from second place on the last special stage in Riihimäki, would be among the favourites in a normal FRC rally. However, the level of the visiting competitors in the class is so high, it is not even close to the usual FRC event at the arctic this time around.

The fact that Teemu Asunmaa, who won the championship last year and skipped Riihimäki, will be participating in Rovaniemi and in all the upcoming events of the season, won’t help the the aforementioned drivers.

The class includes a lot of interesting visitors both from Finland and abroad. Home heroes Mikko Heikkilä and Lauri Joona might even be the biggest pre-race favourites. The top foreign competitors are represented by Nikolay Gryazin, who drove third in the WRC2 class in Rallye Monte-Carlo, and Georg Linnamäe, who is starting his season. Yuki Yamamoto and Hikaru Kogure from Toyota’s junior program bring their own spice to the soup.

However, it is worth noting that foreign drivers who are not registered for the series, will not take points from away from the Finnish drivers in Rovaniemi.

A record number of drivers in the SM2 class

In the SM2 class of Rally3 cars, the season was opened under the command of Henri Hokkala, and the Jyväskylä native, who won the silver medal in the class last year, also arrives in Rovaniemi as the number one favourite. The victory was not easy in Riihimäki and it will not be at the land of the fells either. Finnish drivers Jesse Kallio, Toni Herranen, Jooa Iivari and Ville Ruokanen, offer the toughest challenge.

The class registered a record number of competitors during its FRC history, 16, of which no fewer than nine arrive in Rovaniemi from foreign countries. Paraguay’s Diego Dominguez Bejarano, who is last year’s silver medalist in the WRC3 class, challenges the tough Finnish front.

Kauppinen seeks revenge

Leevi Lassila claimed the victory in the SM3 class of Rally4 cars at Riihimäki and is therefore going to hunt for his second victory from the top spot in the class. Tuukka Kauppinen was having a good run at the season opener, but was excluded from the competition. However, Kauppinen had time to prove his speed potential and is, together with Lassila, the hot favourite to win the class in Rovaniemi.

In the SM2 and SM3 classes, the Flying Finn Future Star competition, which has returned for this season, brings additional excitement. The winner gets a complete participation package to Rally Finland in the coming summer.

Vatanen from the top spot in the SM4 class to the arctic adventure

14 drivers signed up for the SM4 class, the first to start the journey is Riihimäki winner Ville Vatanen. Vatanen is followed by Henri Sääskilahti, who had been holding on to victory in Riihimäki, but his rally ended to an off in the second-to-last special stage.

14-year-old Lauri Halonen, who dazzled the rally fans at Riihimäki, is third on the starting line.

Keski-Korsu and Lähdeniemi favorites in the SM5 class

In Riihimäki, in the SM5 class, the battle for victory took place between Pekka Keski-Korsu and Nico Valkonen. After Valkonen was excluded, Keski-Korsu drove to an overwhelming victory and made himself the number one favourite in Rovaniemi.

Valkonen will not be seen in Rovaniemi, so the runner-up, Arttu Lähdeniemi, will become the toughest challenger for Keski-Korsu. Lähdeniemi didn’t quite get to top speed on the more technical roads of the opening rally, but Rovaniemi’s faster special stages are better suited to Lähdeniemi’s Mitsubishi.

Entry list »

Route & itinerary

Leg 1, Friday 2 February 2024

11:01 Ceremonial Start, Lordi Square, Rovaniemi
11:43 SS 1 Aittajärvi 1 / Rautio Oy, 22,47km (Road closed 9.30-16.00)
12:56 SS 2 Mäntyvaara 1 / Lapin Kansa, 3,69km
13:06 Service A / Regroup In, Service Park Mäntyvaara
15:19 SS 3 Siikakämä Kivalo / Lapland Safaris, 26,03km (Road closed 13.00-20.00)
16:32 SS 4 Kaihuavaara / Skoda, 19,62km (Road closed 14.30-21.30)
18:25 SS 5 Mäntyvaara 2 / Mad-Croc Energy, 3,69km
18:35 Service B In, Service Park Mäntyvaara

Leg 2, Saturday 3 February 2024

08:00 Start Leg 2, Service Park Mäntyvaara
08:43 SS 6 Aittajärvi 2 / Rautio Oy, 22,47km (Road closed 6.30-13.30)
09:46 SS 7 Siikakämä, 26,00km (Road closed 07.30-14.30)
10:59 SS 8 Ounasvaara / Kaukomaa, 1,15km
11:29 Service D / Regroup In, Service Park Mäntyvaara
14:12 SS 9 Sarriojärvi 1 / Capital Box, 32,65km (Road closed 12.00-22.00)
16:15 SS 10 Patovaara, 7,26km (Road closed 14.00-21.00)
16:58 SS 11 Kemijärvi, 2,27km (Road closed 14.00-22.00)
18:01 SS 12 Sarriojärvi 2 / Capital Box, 32,65km (Road closed 12.00-22.00)
20:16 Finish Podium, Lordi Square, Rovaniemi

Special Stage distances

Leg 1: 75,50km
Leg 2: 124,45km
Total: 199,95km

Route map »
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Tickets »
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Livestream: Friday | Saturday

FRC standings: 1/7

SM1
1. Roope Korhonen 25p
2. Benjamin Korhola 18p 
3. Anssi Rytkönen 15p 
4, Mikko Eskelinen 12p
5. Tommi Jylhä 10p 

SM2
1. Henri Hokkala 25p
2. Jesse Kallio 18p
3. Jooa Iivari 15p
4. Ville Ruokanen 12p

SM3
1. Leevi Lassila 25p
2. Niko Kalmi 18p
3. Giovanni Trentin 15p
4. Ossi Pohjanharju 12p 
5. Raoul Dahlqvist 10p 

SM4
1. Ville Vatanen 25p
2. Lauri Halonen 18p
3. Tomi Tikkinen 15p
4. Aaron Holopainen 12p 
5. Kimi Rajala 10p 

SM5
1. Pekka Keski-Korsu 25p
2. Arttu Lähdeniemi 18p
3. Juha Salminen 15p
4. Juha Koljonen 12p 
5. Rasmus Tuominen 10p 

Teams
1. Rautio Motorsport 43p
2. Printsport Racing 37p
3. Ouneva Oy 26p
4. RTE-Motorsport 25p
5. DYNAMO 19p

Full standings »

Flying Finn Future Star

Finland is famous for its internationally successful rally drivers - both in past years, now and hopefully in the future as well.

In 2014, AKK Sports Oy, the organizer of Secto Rally Finland, the organizer of the Finnish World Cup rally, founded the Flying Finn Future Star program, which maps promising rally drivers, to accelerate the path of young talents towards an international breakthrough and the top of the world.

The driver who wins the program has received a significant prize from the beginning. In 2024, the winner will be offered participation in the 2024 Secto Rally Finland as a prize. He gets to show his skills on the gravel roads of the Finnish World Rally Championship with a complete competition package, including M-Sport's Ford Fiesta Rally3 car and a maintenance package: tires, fuel, participation fees, a test before the race, training and coaching, as well as consulting for managing PR and media relations. 

Read more here »

FRC calendar 2024

1) 12.-13.1. Riihimäki rally, Riihimäki (FJRC)
2) 1.-3.2. 59. Arctic Lapland Rally, Rovaniemi
3) 8.-9.3. Tuuri Rally, Alavus (FJRC)
4) 24.-25.5. Länsirannikon Rally, Turku (FJRC)
5) 14.-15.6. Pohjanmaa Rally, Seinäjoki (FJRC)
6) 23.-24.8. Rally Lahti, Lahti (FJRC)
7) 4.-5.10. Rally Kitee, Kitee (FJRC)

Contact details

Sporting Executive

Henrik Frank
henrik.frank@autourheilu.fi
040 534 9977

Promoter

Mika Heinonen
mika.heinonen@autourheilu.fi
045 7730 5990

Commercial

Lassi Liimatainen
lassi.liimatainen@autourheilu.fi
050 325 1120

Follow the FRC

www.rallism.fi
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Follow Arctic Lapland Rally

www.arcticrally.fi
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Photo: Taneli Niinimäki / AKK

Score top 5

1. Roope Korhonen / Anssi Viinikka 70 points LMM (Rally2)
2. Benjamin Korhola / Sebastian Virtanen 49 points VihUA (Rally2)
3. Anssi Rytkönen / Mikael Korhonen 38 points KoMoKe (R5)
4. Mikko Heikkilä / Kristian Temonen 34 points MäntsMK (Rally2)
5. Niclas Grönholm / Kristian Temonen 31 points EMSC (Rally2)

< See all >

Calendar 2024

1) 12.-13.1. SM Auto Sorsa Riihimäki-Ralli, Riihimäki
2) 1.-3.2. 59. Arctic Lapland Rally, Rovaniemi
3) 8.-9.3. SM Tuuri Ralli, Alavus
4) 24.-25.5. SM Mad-Croc Länsirannikon Ralli, Turku
5) 14.-15.6. SM Pohjanmaa Ralli, Seinäjoki
6) 23.-24.8. Future SM-ralli, Lahti
7) 4.-5.10. SM Ralli Kitee, Kitee

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